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F.  THOS.  BERGH,  O.S.B., 




Die  7  Decembris,  1911. 

[All  rights  reserved} 

Bngelus  Series 








REV.  P.  J.  BERTHIER,  O.P. 





R.  &  T.   WASHBOURNE,  LTD. 


er  P" 


SURELY  the  most  deeply- 
rooted  need  of  the  human 
soul,  its  purest  aspiration,  is  for 
the  closest  possible  union  with 
God.  As  one  turns  over  the 
pages  of  this  little  work,  written 
by  Blessed  Albert  the  Great1  to 
wards  the  end  of  his  life,  when 
that  great  soul  had  ripened  and 
matured,  one  feels  that  here  indeed 
is  the  ideal  of  one's  hopes. 

Simply  and  clearly  the  great 
principles  are  laid  down,  the  way 
is  made  plain  which  leads  to  the 
highest  spiritual  life.  It  seems  as 

1  Following  the  general  tradition,  we 
attribute  this  work  to  Albert  the  Great,  but 
not  all  critics  are  agreed  as  to  its  authen 



though,  while  one  reads,  the  mists 
of  earth  vanish  and  the  snowy 
summits  appear  of  the  mountains 
of  God,  We  breathe  only  the 
pure  atmosphere  of  prayer,  peace, 
and  love,  and  the  one  great  fact  of 
the  universe,  the  Divine  Presence, 
is  felt  and  realized  without  effort. 

But  is  such  a  life  possible  amid 
the  whirl  of  the  twentieth  century? 
To  faith  and  love  all  things  are 
possible,  and  our  author  shows  us 
the  loving  Father,  ever  ready  to 
give  as  much  and  more  than  we 
can  ask.  The  spirit  of  such  a 
work  is  ever  true  ;  the  application 
may  vary  with  circumstances,  but 
the  guidance  of  the  Holy  Spirit 
will  never  be  wanting  to  those  souls 
who  crave  for  closer  union  with 
their  Divine  Master. 

This  little  treatise  has  been  very 
aptly  called  the  "  Metaphysics  of 
the    Imitation,"  and   it  is  in   the 


hope  that  it  may  be  of  use  to  souls 
that  it  has  been  translated  into 

Blessed  Albert  the  Great  is  too 
well  known  for  it  to  be  necessary 
for  us  to  give  more  than  the  briefest 
outline  of  his  life. 

The  eldest  son  of  the  Count  of 
Bollstadt,  he  was  born  at  Lauin- 
gen  in  Swabia  in  1205  or  1206, 
though  some  historians  give  it  as 
1193.  As  a  youth  he  was  sent  to 
the  University  of  Padua,  where  he 
had  special  facilities  for  the  study 
of  the  liberal  arts. 

Drawn  by  the  persuasive  teach 
ing  of  Blessed  Jordan  of  Saxony, 
he  joined  the  Order  of  St.  Dominic 
in  1223,  and  after  completing  his 
studies,  received  the  Doctor's 
degree  at  the  University  of 

His     brilliant     genius     quickly 
brought  him  into  the  most  promi- 


nent  positions.  Far-famed  for  his 
learning,  he  attracted  scholars 
from  all  parts  of  Europe  to  Paris, 
Cologne,  Ratisbon,  etc.,  where  he 
successively  taught.  It  was  during 
his  years  of  teaching  at  Paris  and 
Cologne  that  he  counted  among 
his  disciples  St.  Thomas  Aquinas, 
the  greatness  of  whose  future  he 
foretold,  and  whose  lifelong  friend 
ship  with  him  then  began. 

In  1254  Albert  was  elected 
Provincial  of  his  Order  in  Ger 
many.  In  1260  he  was  appointed 
Bishop  of  Ratisbon,  but  resigned 
his  see  in  1262.  He  then  con 
tinued  unweariedly  until  a  few 
years  before  his  death,  when  his 
great  powers,  especially  his  memory, 
failed  him,  but  the  fervour  of  his 
soul  remained  ever  the  same.  In 
1280,  at  Cologne,  he  sank,  at  last 
worn  out  by  his  manifold  labours. 

"  Whether  we  consider  him  as  a 



theologian  or  as  a  philosopher, 
Albert  was  undoubtedly  one  of 
the  most  extraordinary  men  of  his 
age ;  I  might  say,  one  of  the  most 
wonderful  men  of  genius  who 
appeared  in  past  times  "  (Jour- 

Very  grateful  thanks  are  due  to 
Rev.  P.  J.  Berthier,  O.P.,  for  his 
kind  permission  to  append  to  this 
edition  a  translation  of  his  excellent 
notes-  (from  the  French  edition, 
entitled  "  De  1'Union  avec  Dieu  "). 





TION  IN  THIS  LIFE  -      23 


AND  NOT  WITH  THE  SENSES  -       27 
ELSE  -      33 


MUST    SEEK     GOD     IN     PURITY 

OF  MIND  AND  HEART    -        -      40 


RECOLLECTION        -        -        -      45 



HIM 52 


IS     TO     BE     PREFERRED    ABOVE 

ALL  OTHER  EXERCISES         -      57 




OUR  WILL  WITH  GOD   -        -      65 

GOD        .  .      76 


TERIOR  RECOLLECTION  -        -      82 


SCIENCE  -----      88 

HOW      IT      IS     ACQUIRED  :      ITS 

PROFIT  TO  THE  SOUL  -    .   94 


THINGS  -        -        .        .        .     I02 

"  It  is  good  for  me  to  adhere  to  my  God." 

"Be  you  therefore  perfect,  as  also  your 
heavenly  Father  is  perfect." 







I  HAVE  felt  moved  to  write  a 
few  last  thoughts  describing, 
as  far  as  one  may  in  this  waiting- 
time  of  our  exile  and  pilgrimage, 
the  entire  separation  of  the  soul 
from  all  earthly  things  and  its 
close,  unfettered  union  with  God. 
I  have  been  the  more  urged  to 
this,  because  Christian  perfection 
has  no  other  end  but  charity, 
which  unites  us  to  God.1 

1  Albert  the  Great  is  speaking  here  in  a 
special  manner  of  religious   perfection,  aj« 


On  Union  with  God 

This  union  of  charity  is  essential 
for  salvation,  since  it  consists  in 
the  practice  of  the  precepts  and 
in  conformity  to  the  Divine  will. 
Hence  it  separates  us  from  what 
ever  would  war  against  the  essence 
and  habit  of  charity,  such  as 
mortal  sin.1 

But  religious,  the  more  easily 
to  attain  to  God,  their  last  end, 
have  gone  beyond  this,  and  have 
bound  themselves  by  vow  to 
evangelical  perfection,  to  that 
which  is  voluntary  and  of  counsel.2 
With  the  help  of  these  vows  they 
cut  off  all  that  might  impede  the 
fervour  of  their  love  or  hinder 
them  in  their  flight  to  God.  They 

though  what  he  says  is  also  true  of  Christian 
perfection  in  general. 

1  He  speaks  here  of  the  obligation  laid 
upon  all  Christians. 

2  Religious  bind  themselves  to  observe  a 
a  duty  that  which  was  only  of  counsel.     To 
them,  therefore,  the  practice  of  the  counsels, 
becomes  an  obligation. 


The  Highest  Perfection 

have,  therefore,  by  the  vow  of  their 
religious  profession,  renounced  all 
things,  whether  pertaining  to  soul 
or  body.1  God  is  in  truth  a 
Spirit,  and  "  they  that  adore  Him 
must  adore  Him  in  spirit  and  in 
truth,"2  that  is,  with  a  knowledge 
and  love,  an  intelligence  and  will 
purified  from  every  phantom  of 

Hence  it  is  written :  "  When 
thou  shalt  pray,  enter  into  thy 
chamber  " — i.e.,  into  the  inmost 
abode  of  thy  heart — and,  "  having 
shut  the  door  "  of  thy  senses,  with 
a  pure  heart,  a  free  conscience 
and  an  unfeigned  faith,  "  pray  to 

1  The  vows  of  religion  have  as  their  im 
mediate  object  the  removal  of  obstacles  to 
perfection,   but  they  do  not  in  themselves 
constitute   perfection.      Perfection   consists 
in  charity.     Albert  the  Great  speaks  of  only 
one  vow,  because  in  his  day  the  formulas  of 
religious  profession  mentioned  only  the  vow 
of  obedience,  which  includes  the  other  two 

2  John  iv.  24. 

17  B 

On  Union  with  God 

thy  Father  "  in  spirit  and  in  truth, 
in  the  "  secret  "  of  thy  soul.1 

Then  only  will  a  man  attain  to 
this  ideal,  when  he  has  despoiled 
and  stripped  himself  of  all  else ; 
when,  wholly  recollected  within 
himself,  he  has  hidden  from  and 
forgotten  the  whole  world,  that  he 
may  abide  in  silence  in  the  presence 
of  Jesus  Christ.  There,  in  solitude 
of  soul,  with  loving  confidence  he 
makes  known  his  desires  to  God. 
With  all  the  intensity  of  his  love 
he  pours  forth  his  heart  before 
Him,  in  sincerity  and  truth,  until 
he  loses  himself  in  God.  Then  is 
his  heart  enlarged,  inflamed,  and 
melted  in  him,  yea,  even  in  its 
inmost  depths. 

1  Matt.  vi.  6. 





WHOSOEVER  thou  art  who 
longest  to  enter  upon  this 
happy  state  or  seekest  to  direct 
thither  thy  steps,  thus  it  behoveth 
thee  to  act. 

First,  close,  as  it  were,  thine 
eyes,  and  bar  the  doors  of  thy 
senses.  Suffer  not  anything  to 
entangle  thy  soul,  nor  permit 
any  care  or  trouble  to  penetrate 
within  it. 

Shake  off  all  earthly  things, 
counting  them  useless,  noxious, 
and  hurtful  to  thee.1 

1  When  Albert  the  Great  and  the  other 
mystics  warn  us  against  solicitude  with  re- 


On  Union  with  God 

When  thou  hast  done  this,  enter 
wholly  within  thyself,  and  fix  thy 
gaze  upon  thy  wounded  Jesus,  and 
upon  Him  alone.  Strive  with  all 
thy  powers,  unwearyingly,  to  reach 
God  through  Himself,  that  is, 
through  God  made  Man,  that  thou 
mayest  attain  to  the  knowledge  of 
His  Divinity  through  the  wounds 
of  His  Sacred  Humanity. 

In  all  simplicity  and  confidence 
abandon  thyself  and  whatever 
concerns  thee  without  reserve  to 
God's  unfailing  Providence,  accord 
ing  to  the  teaching  of  St.  Peter: 
"Casting  all  your  care  upon  Him,"1 
Who  can  do  all  things.  And  again 
it  is  written :  "  Be  nothing  soli 
citous  ";2  "  Cast  thy  care  upon  the 

gard  to  creatures,  they  refer  to  that  solicitude 
which  is  felt  for  creatures  in  themselves  ; 
they  do  not  mean  that  we  ought  not  to 
occupy  ourselves  with  them  in  any  way  for 
God's  sake.  The  great  doctor  explains  his 
meaning  in  clear  terms  later  on  in  this  work. 
1  i  Pet.  v.  7.  2  Phil.  iv.  6. 

The  Search  after  God 

Lord  and  He  shall  sustain  thee  "j1 
"  It  is  good  for  me  to  adhere  to 
my  God";2  "I  set  the  Lord 
always  in  my  sight "  ;3  "I  found 
Him  Whom  my  soul  loveth";4 
and  "  Now  all  good  things  came  to 
me  "5  together  with  Him.  This  is 
the  hidden  and  heavenly  treasure, 
the  precious  pearl,  which  is  to  be 
preferred  before  all.  This  it  is 
that  we  must  seek  with  humble 
confidence  and  untiring  effort,  yet 
in  silence  and  peace. 

It  must  be  sought  with  a  brave 
heart,  even  though  its  price  be  the 
loss  of  bodily  comfort,  of  esteem, 
and  of  honour. 

Lacking  this,  what  doth  it  profit 
a  religious  if  he  "  gain  the  whole 
world,  and  suffer  the  loss  of  his 
own  soul?"6  Of  what  value  are 
the  religious  state,  the  holiness 

1  Ps.  liv.  23.  2  Ps.  Ixxii.  28. 

3  Ps.  xv.  8.  4  Cant.  Hi.  4. 

6  Wis.  vii.  ii.  6  Matt.  xvi.  26. 


On  Union  with  God 

of  our  profession,  the  shaven  head, 
the  outward  signs  of  a  life  of  ab 
negation,  if  we  lack  the  spirit  of 
humility  and  truth,  in  which 
Christ  dwells  by  faith  and  love  ? 
St.  Luke  says  :  "  The  kingdom  of 
God,"  that  is,  Christ,  "is  within 

1  Luke  xvii.  21. 




IN  proportion  as  the  mind  is 
absorbed  in  the  thought  and 
care  of  the  things  of  this  world  do 
we  lose  the  fervour  of  our  devotion, 
and  drift  away  from  the  things  of 

The  greater,  on  the  other  hand, 
our  diligence  in  withdrawing  our 
powers  from  the  memory,  love  and 
thought  of  that  which  is  inferior  in 
order  to  fix  them  upon  that  which 
is  above,  the  more  perfect  will  be 
our  prayer,  the  purer  our  contem 
plation.  The  soul  cannot  give 
itself  perfectly  at  the  same  time  to 
two  objects  as  contrary  one  to 

On  Union  with  God 

another  as  light  to  darkness  ;l  for 
he  who  lives  united  to  God  dwells 
in  the  light,  he  who  clings  to  this 
world  lives  in  darkness. 

The  highest  perfection,  there 
fore,  of  man  in  this  life  lies  in  this: 
that  he  is  so  united  to  God  that 
his  soul  with  all  its  powers  and 
faculties  becomes  recollected  in 
Him  and  is  one  spirit  with 
Him.2  Then  it  remembers  naught 
save  God,  nor  does  it  relish  or 
understand  anything  but  Him. 
Then  all  its  affections,  united  in 
the  delights  of  love,  repose  sweetly 
in  the  enjoyment  of  their  Creator. 

The  image  of  God  which  is  im 
printed  upon  the  soul  is  found  in 
the  three  powers  of  the  reason, 

1  Albert   the   Great    supposes   here   that 
we  give  ourselves  equally  to   God  and  to 
creatures,  which  would  be  wrong,  and  not 
that   creatures   are    subordinated   to   God, 
which  would  be  a  virtue. 

2  This  must  be  understood  to  mean  that 
God  is  the  principal  and  supreme  end  of  all 
created  activities. 


Law  of  Man's  Perfection 

memory,  and  will.  But  since 
these  do  not  perfectly  bear  the 
Divine  likeness,  they  have  not  the 
same  resemblance  to  God  as  in 
the  first  days  of  man's  creation.1 

God  is  the  "  form  "  of  the  soul 
upon  which  He  must  impress  His 
own  image,  as  the  seal  on  the  wax 
or  the  stamp  on  the  object  it 

1  The  perfect  image  of  God  in  man  does 
not  consist  merely  in  the  possession  of  those 
faculties  by  which  we  resemble  Him,  but 
rather  in  performing  by  faith  and  love,  as 
far  as  is  in  our  power,  acts  like  those  which 
He  performs,  in  knowing  Him  as  He  knows 
Himself,  in  loving  Him  as  He  loves  Him 

2  In  scholastic  theology  the  term  ' '  form  ' ' 
is  used  of  that  which  gives  to  anything  its 
accidental  or  substantial  being.     God  is  the 
"  accidental  form"  of  the  soul,  because  in 
giving   it  its   activity  He  bestows   upon  it 
something  of  His  own  activity,  by  means  of 
sanctifying  grace.     Yet  more  truly   may  it 
be  said  that  God  is  also  the  ' '  form  ' '  of  the 
soul  in  the  sense  that  it  is  destined  by  the 
ordinary  workings  of  Providence  to  partici 
pate  by  sanctifying  grace  in  the  Being  of 
God,    enjoying    thus  a   participation    real, 
though  created,  in  the  Divine  nature. 


On  Union  with  God 

This  can  only  be  fully  accom 
plished  when  the  reason  is  wholly 
illuminated  according  to  its  capac 
ity,  by  the  knowledge  of  God,  the 
Sovereign  Truth  ;  the  will  entirely 
devoted  to  the  love  of  the  Supreme 
Good;  the  memory  absorbed  in 
the  contemplation  and  enjoyment 
of  eternal  felicity,  and  in  the  sweet 
repose  of  so  great  a  happiness. 

As  the  perfect  possession  of  this 
state  constitutes  the  glory  of  the 
Blessed  in  Heaven,  it  is  clear  that 
in  its  commencement  consists  the 
perfection  of  this  life. 





BLESSED  is  he  who  by  con 
tinually  cleansing  his  soul 
from  the  images  and  phantoms  of 
earth  draws  its  powers  inward,  and 
thence  lifts  them  up  to  God. 

At  length  he  in  a  manner  for 
gets  all  images,  and  by  a  simple 
and  direct  act  of  pure  intellect  and 
will  contemplates  God,  Who  is 
absolutely  simple. 

Cast  from  thee,  therefore,  all 
phantoms,  images,  and  forms,  and 
whatsoever  is  not  God,1  that  all 

1  We  must  avoid  these  things  in  so  far  as 
they  separate  us  from  God,  but  they  may 

On  Union  with  God 

thy  intercourse  with  Him  may 
proceed  from  an  understanding, 
affection,  and  will,  alike  purified. 
This  is,  in  truth,  the  end  of  all  thy 
labours,  that  thou  mayest  draw 
nigh  unto  God  and  repose  in  Him 
within  thy  soul,  solely  by  thy 
understanding  and  by  a  fervent 
love,  free  from  entanglement  or 
earthly  image. 

Not  by  his  bodily  organs  or  out 
ward  senses  does  a  man  attain  to 
this,  but  by  the  intelligence  and 
will,  which  constitute  him  man.1 
So  long  as  he  lingers,  trifling  with 
the  objects  of  the  imagination  and 
senses,  he  has  not  yet  passed 
beyond  the  limits  and  instincts  of 
his  animal  nature,  which  he  pos 
sesses  in  common  with  the  brute 

also  serve  to  draw  us  nearer  to  Him  if  we 
regard  them  in  God  and  for  God. 

1  It  is  by  the  intelligence  and  will  that 
man  actually  attains  to  this,  but  the  use  of 
the  sensitive  faculties  is  presupposed. 

Our  Labour 

beasts.  They  know  and  feel 
through  images  and  by  their 
senses,  nor  can  it  be  otherwise,  for 
they  have  no  higher  powers.  Not 
so  is  it  with  man,  who,  by  his  in 
telligence,  affections,  and  will,  is 
created  in  the  image  and  likeness 
of  God.  Hence  it  is  by  these 
powers  that  he  ought,  without 
intermediary,  purely  and  directly 
to  commune  with  God,  be  united 
to  Him,  and  cleave  to  Him.1 

The  Devil  does  his  very  utmost 
to  hinder  us  from  this  exercise,  for 
he  beholds  in  it  a  beginning  and  a 
foretaste  of  eternal  life,  and  he  is 
envious  of  man.  Therefore  he 
strives,  now  by  one  temptation  or 
passion,  now  by  another,  to  turn 
away  our  thoughts  from  God. 

At  one  time   he   assails   us    by 

1  The  sensitive  faculties,  if  used  as  a 
means,  often  help  us  to  draw  near  to  God, 
but  when  used  as  an  end,  their  activity  be 
comes  an  obstacle. 


On  Union  with  God 

arousing  in  us  unnecessary  anxiety, 
foolish  cares  or  troubles,  or  by 
drawing  us  to  irregular  conversa 
tions  and  vain  curiosity.  At 
another  he  ensnares  us  by  subtle 
books,  by  the  words  of  others,  by 
rumours  and  novelties.  Then, 
again,  he  has  recourse  to  trials, 
contradictions,  etc. 

Although  these  things  may 
sometimes  seem  but  very  trifling 
faults,  if  faults  at  all,  yet  do  they 
greatly  hinder  our  progress  in  this 
holy  exercise.  Therefore,  whether 
great  or  small,  they  must  be  re 
sisted  and  driven  from  us  as  evil 
and  harmful,  though  they  may 
seem  useful  and  even  necessary. 
It  is  of  great  importance  that 
what  we  have  heard,  or  seen,  or 
done,  or  said,  should  not  leave 
their  traces  or  fill  our  imagination. 

Neither  before  nor  after,  nor  at 

Our  Labour 

the  time,  should  we  foster  these 
memories  or  allow  their  images  to 
be  formed.  For  when  the  mind 
is  free  from  these  thoughts,  we  are 
not  hindered  in  our  prayer,  in 
meditation,  or  the  psalmody,  or  in 
any  other  of  our  spiritual  exercises, 
nor  do  these  distractions  return  to 
trouble  us. 

Then  shouldst  thou  readily  and 
trustfully  commit  thyself  and  all 
that  concerns  thee  to  the  unfailing 
and  most  sure  Providence  of  God, 
in  silence  and  peace.  He  Himself 
will  fight  for  thee,  and  will  grant 
thee  a  liberty  and  consolation 
better,  nobler,  and  sweeter  than 
would  be  possible  if  thou  gavest 
thyself  up  day  and  night  to  thy 
fancies,  to  vain  and  wandering 
thoughts,  which  hold  captive 
the  mind,  as  they  toss  it  hither 
and  thither,  wearying  soul  and 

On  Union  with  God 

body,  and  wasting  uselessly  alike 
thy  time  and  strength.1 

Accept  all  things,  whatsoever 
their  cause,  silently  and  with  a 
tranquil  mind,  as  coming  to  thee 
from  the  fatherly  hand  of  Divine 

Free  thyself,  therefore,  from  all 
the  impressions  of  earthly  things, 
in  so  far  as  thy  state  and  profes 
sion  require,  so  that  with  a  purified 
mind  and  sincere  affection  thou 
mayest  cleave  to  Him  to  Whom 
thou  hast  so  often  and  so  entirely 
vowed  thyself. 

Let  nothing  remain  which  could 
come  between  thy  soul  and  God, 
that  so  thou  mayest  be  able  to  pass 
surely  and  directly  from  the  wounds 
of  the  Sacred  Humanity  to  the 
brightness  of  the  Divinity. 

1  This  teaching  is  the  Christian  rendering 
of  the  axiom  formulated  by  the  Philosopher  : 
"Homo   sedendo   fit  sapiens" — "It   is   in 
quiet  that  man  gains  wisdom." 



WHICH    IS    TO    BE    SOUGHT 


WOULDST  thou  journey  by 
the  shortest  road,  the 
straight  and  safe  way  unto  eternal 
bliss,  unto  thy  true  country,  to 
grace  and  glory  ?  Strive  with  all 
thy  might  to  obtain  habitual  clean 
ness  of  heart,  purity  of  mind,  quiet 
of  the  senses.  Gather  up  thy 
affections,  and  with  thy  whole 
heart  cleave  unto  God. 

Withdraw  as  much  as  thou 
canst  from  thy  acquaintance  and 
from  all  men,  and  abstain  from 
such  affairs  as  would  hinder  thy 

33  c 

On  Union  with  God 

Seek  out  with  jealous  care  the 
place,  time,  and  means  most  suited 
to  quiet  and  contemplation,  and 
lovingly  embrace  silence  and 

Beware  the  dangers  of  which  the 
times  are  full ;  fly  the  agitation  of 
a  world  never  at  rest,  never  still.1 

Let  thy  chief  study  be  to  gain 
purity,  freedom,  and  peace  of 
heart.  Close  the  doors  of  thy 
senses  and  dwell  within,  shutting 
thy  heart  as  diligently  as  thou 
canst  against  the  shapes  and 
images  of  earthly  things. 

Of  all  the  practices  of  the  spir 
itual  life  purity  of  heart  stands 
highest,  and  rightly,  for  it  is  the 
end  and  reward  of  all  our  labours, 
and  is  found  only  with  those  who 
live  truly  according  to  the  spirit 
and  as  good  religious. 

Wherefore  thou  shouldst  employ 

1  This  is  especially  true  for  religious. 

Purity  of  Heart 

all  thy  diligence  and  skill  in  order 
to  free  thy  heart,  senses,  and 
affections  from  whatever  could 
trammel  their  liberty,  or  could 
fetter  or  ensnare  thy  soul.  Strive 
earnestly  to  gather  in  the  wander 
ing  affections  of  thy  heart  and  fix 
them  on  the  love  of  the  sole  and 
pure  Truth,  the  Sovereign  Good; 
then  keep  them,  as  it  were,  en 
chained  within  thee. 

Fix  thy  gaze  unwaveringly  upon 
God  and  Divine  things  ;  spurn  the 
follies  of  earth  and  seek  to  be 
wholly  transformed  in  Jesus  Christ, 
yea,  even  to  the  heart's  core. 

When  thou  hast  begun  to 
cleanse  and  purify  thy  soul  of 
earthly  images,  and  to  unify  and 
tranquillize  thy  heart  and  mind  in 
God  with  loving  confidence,  to  the 
end  that  thou  mayest  taste  and 
enjoy  in  all  thy  powers  the  torrents 
of  His  good  pleasure,  and  mayest 

On  Union  with  God 

fix  thy  will  and  intelligence  in 
Him,  then  thou  wilt  no  longer 
need  to  study  and  read  the  Holy 
Scriptures  to  learn  the  love  of 
God  and  of  thy  neighbour,  for  the 
Holy  Spirit  Himself  will  teach 

Spare  no  pains,  no  labour,  to 
purify  thy  heart  and  to  establish  it 
in  unbroken  peace. 

Abide  in  God  in  the  secret  place 
of  thy  soul  as  tranquilly  as  though 
there  had  already  risen  upon  thee 
the  dawn  of  Eternity,  the  unending 
Day  of  God. 

Strong  in  the  love  of  Jesus,  go 
forth  from  thyself,  with  a  heart 
pure,  a  conscience  at  peace,  a  faith 
unfeigned ;  and  in  every  trial, 
every  event,  commit  thyself  un- 

i  By  this  is  meant  that  the  Holy  Scrip 
tures,  though  always  presupposed  as  the 
foundation  of  our  belief,  of  themselves  give 
only  an  objective  knowledge  of  God,  while 
that  which  the  Holy  Ghost  gives  is  ex 


Purity  of  Heart 

reservedly  to  God,  having  nothing 
so  much  at  heart  as  perfect 
obedience  to  His  will  and  good 

If  thou  wouldst  arrive  thus  far, 
it  is  needful  for  thee  often  to  enter 
within  thy  soul  and  to  abide 
therein,  disengaging  thyself  as 
much  as  thou  canst  from  all  things. 

Keep  the  eye  of  thy  soul  ever  in 
purity  and  peace;  suffer  not  the 
form  and  images  of  this  world  to 
defile  thy  mind ;  preserve  thy  will 
from  every  earthly  care,  and  let 
every  fibre  of  thy  heart  be  rooted 
in  the  love  of  the  Sovereign  Good. 
Thus  will  thy  whole  soul,  with  all 
its  powers,  be  recollected  in  God 
and  form  but  one  spirit  with 

It  is  in  this  that  the  highest 
perfection  possible  to  man  here 
below  consists. 

This  union  of  the  spirit  and  of 

On  Union  with  God 

love,  by  which  a  man  conforms 
himself  in  everything  to  the 
supreme  and  eternal  will,  enables 
us  to  become  by  grace  what  God 
is  by  His  nature.1 

Let  us  not  forget  this  truth : 
the  moment  a  man,  by  the  help  of 
God,  succeeds  in  overcoming  his 
own  will,  that  is,  in  freeing  him 
self  from  every  inordinate  affection 
and  care,  to  cast  himself  and  all 
his  miseries  unreservedly  into  the 
bosom  of  God,  that  moment  he 
becomes  so  pleasing  to  God  that  he 
receives  the  gift  of  grace.  Grace 
brings  charity,  and  charity  drives 
out  all  fear  and  hesitation,  and 
fills  the  soul  with  confidence  and 
hope.  What  is  more  blessed  than 
to  cast  all  our  care  on  Him  Who 
cannot  fail  ?  As  long  as  thou 
leanest  upon  thyself  thou  wilt 

1  God  knows  and  loves  Himself  in  Him 
self  by  His  own  nature,  while  we  know  and 
love  Him  in  Himself  by  grace. 

Purity  of  Heart 

totter.  Cast  thyself  fearlessly  into 
the  arms  of  God.  He  will  embrace 
thee,  He  will  heal  and  save  thee.1 
If  thou  wouldst  ponder  often 
upon  these  truths  they  would  bring 
to  thee  more  happiness  than  all 
the  riches,  delights,  honours,  of 
this  false  world,  and  would  make 
thee  more  blessed  than  all  the 
wisdom  and  knowledge  of  this 
corruptible  life,  even  though  thou 
shouldst  surpass  all  the  wise  men 
who  have  gone  before  thee. 

i  A  very  striking  feature  in  the  doctrine 
of  this  book  is  that  it  requires  first  the  per 
fection  of  the  soul  and  the  faculties,  whence 
proceeds  that  of  our  actions.  Some  modern 
authors,  confining  themselves  to  casuistry, 
speak  almost  exclusively  of  the  perfection 
of  actions,  a  method  less  logical  and  less 






AS  thou  goest  forward  in  this 
work  of  ridding  thee  of  every 
earthly  thought  and  entanglement 
thou  wilt  behold  thy  soul  regain 
her  strength  and  the  mastery  of 
her  inward  senses,  and  thou  wilt 
begin  to  taste  the  sweetness  of 
heavenly  things. 

Learn,  therefore,  to  keep  thyself 
free  from  the  images  of  outward 
and  material  objects,  for  God  loves 
with  a  special  love  the  soul  that 
is  thus  purified.  His  "delights" 
are  "  to  be  with  the  children  of 

Purity  of  Mind  and  Heart 

men,"1  that  is,  with  those  who, 
set  free  from  earthly  affairs  and 
distractions,  and  at  peace  from 
their  passions,  offer  Him  simple 
and  pure  hearts  intent  on  Him 

If  the  memory,  imagination,  and 
thoughts  still  dwell  below,  it 
follows  of  necessity  that  fresh 
events,  memories  of  the  past,  and 
other  things  will  ensnare  and  drag 
thee  down.  But  the  Holy  Spirit 
abides  not  amid  such  empty 

The  true  friend  of  Jesus  Christ 
must  be  so  united  by  his  intelli 
gence  and  will  to  the  Divine  will 
and  goodness  that  his  imagination 
and  passions  have  no  hold  over 
him,  and  that  he  troubles  not 
whether  men  give  him  love  or 
ridicule,  nor  heeds  what  may  be 
done  to  him.  Know  well  that  a 

1  Prov.  viii.  31. 

On  Union  with  God 

truly  good  will  does  all  and  is  of 
more  value  than  all. 

If  the  will  is  good,  wholly  con 
formed  and  united  to  God,  and 
guided  by  reason,  it  matters  little 
that  the  flesh,  the  senses,  the 
exterior  man  are  inclined  to  evil 
and  sluggish  in  good,  or  even  that 
a  man  find  himself  interiorly  lack 
ing  in  devotion.1  It  suffices  that 
he  remains  with  his  whole  soul 
inwardly  united  to  God  by  faith 
and  a  good  will. 

This  he  will  accomplish  if,  know 
ing  his  own  imperfection  and  utter 
nothingness,  he  understands  that 
all  his  happiness  is  in  his  Creator. 
Then  does  he  forsake  himself,  his 
own  strength  and  powers,  and 
every  creature,  and  hides  himself 

1  The  exterior  powers  of  a  man  are  the 
imagination  and  passions;  the  interior  his 
intelligence  and  will,  which  sometimes  find 
themselves  deprived  of  all  the  aids  of  sensible 


Purity  of  Mind  and  Heart 

in  complete  abandonment  in  the 
bosom  of  God. 

To  God  are  all  his  actions 
simply  and  purely  directed.  He 
seeks  nothing  outside  of  God,  but 
knows  that  of  a  truth  he  has  found 
in  Him  all  the  good  and  all  the 
happiness  of  perfection.  Then 
will  he  be  in  some  measure  trans 
formed  in  God.  He  will  no  longer 
be  able  to  think,  love,  understand, 
remember  aught  save  God  and  the 
things  of  God.  He  will  no  longer 
behold  himself  or  creatures  save  in 
God  ;  no  love  will  possess  him  but 
the  love  of  God,  nor  will  he  re 
member  creatures  or  even  his  own 
being,  save  in  God. 

Such  a  knowledge  of  the  truth 
renders  the  soul  humble,  makes 
her  a  hard  judge  towards  herself, 
but  merciful  to  others,  while 
earthly  wisdom  puffs  up  the  soul 
with  pride  and  vanity.  Behold, 


On  Union  with  God 

this  is  wise  and  spiritual  doctrine, 
grounded  upon  the  truth,  and 
leading  unto  the  knowledge  and 
service  of  God,  and  to  familiarity 
with  Him. 

If  thou  desirest  to  possess  Him 
indeed,  thou  must  of  necessity 
despoil  thy  heart  of  earthly  affec 
tions,  not  alone  for  persons,  but 
for  every  creature,  that  thou 
mayest  tend  to  the  Lord  thy  God 
with  thy  whole  heart  and  with  all 
thy  strength,  freely,  simply,  with 
out  fear  or  solicitude,  trusting 
everything  in  entire  confidence  to 
His  all-watchful  Providence.1 

1  In  truth,  all  the  designs  of  God  in  our 
regard  are  full  of  mercy,  and  tend  especially 
to  our  sanctification  ;  the  obstacles  to  these 
designs  come  only  from  our  evil  passions. 




THE  author  of  the  book  en 
titled  "  De  Spiritu  et  Anima" 
tells  us  (chap,  xxi.)1  that  to  ascend 
to  God  means  nothing  else  than  to 
enter  into  oneself.  And,  indeed, 
he  who  enters  into  the  secret  place 
of  his  own  soul  passes  beyond 
himself,  and  does  in  very  truth 
ascend  to  God. 

Banish,  therefore,  from  thy 
heart  the  distractions  of  earth  and 
turn  thine  eyes  to  spiritual  joys, 
that  thou  mayest  learn  at  last  to 

1  The  book  "  De  Spiritu  et  Anima  "  is  of 
uncertain  authorship.  It  is  printed  after 
the  works  of  St.  Augustine  in  Migne's 
"Patrologia  Latina,"  vol.  xl.,  779. 


On  Union  with  God 

repose  in  the  light  of  the  contem 
plation  of  God. 

Verily  the  soul's  true  life  and 
her  repose  are  to  abide  in  God, 
held  fast  by  love,  and  sweetly 
refreshed  by  the  Divine  consola 

But  many  are  the  obstacles 
which  hinder  us  from  tasting  this 
rest,  and  of  our  own  strength  we 
could  never  attain  to  it.  The 
reason  is  evident — the  mind  is 
distracted  and  preoccupied  ;  it  can 
not  enter  into  itself  by  the  aid  of 
the  memory,  for  it  is  blinded  by 
phantoms ;  nor  can  it  enter  by  the 
intellect,  for  it  is  vitiated  by  the 
passions.  Even  the  desire  of 
interior  joys  and  spiritual  delights 
fails  to  draw  it  inward.  It  lies  so 
deeply  buried  in  things  sensible 
and  transitory  that  it  cannot  return 
to  itself  as  to  the  image  of  God. 

How  needful  is  it,  then,  that  the 

Interior  Recollection 

soul,  lifted  upon  the  wings  of 
reverence  and  humble  confidence, 
should  rise  above  itself  and  every 
creature  by  entire  detachment,  and 
should  be  able  to  say  within  itself: 
He  Whom  I  seek,  love,  desire, 
among  all,  more  than  all,  and 
above  all,  cannot  be  perceived  by 
the  senses  or  the  imagination,  for 
He  is  above  both  the  senses  and 
the  understanding.  He  cannot  be 
perceived  by  the  senses,  yet  He  is 
the  object  of  all  our  desires  ;  He  is 
without  shape,  but  He  is  supremely 
worthy  of  our  heart's  deepest  love. 
He  is  beyond  compare,  and  to  the 
pure  in  heart  greatly  to  be  desired. 
Above  all  else  is  He  sweet  and 
love-worthy;  His  goodness  and 
perfection  are  infinite. 

When  thou  shalt  understand 
this,  thy  soul  will  enter  into  the 
darkness  of  the  spirit,  and  will 
advance  further  and  penetrate 


On  Union  with  God 

more  deeply  into  itself.1  Thou 
wilt  by  this  means  attain  more 
speedily  unto  the  beholding  in  a 
dark  manner  of  the  Trinity  in 
Unity,  and  Unity  in  Trinity,  in 
Christ  Jesus,  in  proportion  as  thy 
effort  is  more  inward ;  and  the 
greater  is  thy  charity,  the  more 
precious  the  fruit  thou  wilt  reap. 
For  the  highest,  in  spiritual  things, 
is  ever  that  which  is  most  interior. 
Grow  not  weary,  therefore,  and 
rest  not  from  thy  efforts  until  thou 
hast  received  some  earnest  or  fore 
taste  of  the  fulness  of  joy  that 

1  This  darkness  is  the  silence  of  the  im 
agination,  which  no  longer  gains  a  hearing, 
and  that  of  the  intellect,  which  is  sufficiently 
enlightened  to  understand  that  we  can  in 
reality  understand  nothing  of  the  Divinity 
in  itself,  and  that  the  best  thing  we  can  do 
is  to  remove  from  our  conception  of  God  all 
those  limitations  which  we  observe  in  crea 
tures.  The  reason  of  this  is  that  we  can 
only  know  God  naturally  by  means  of  what 
we  see  in  creatures,  and  these  are  always 
utterly  insufficient  to  give  us  an  adequate 
idea  of  the  Creator. 


Interior  Recollection 

awaits  thee,  and  has  obtained  some 
first-fruits  of  the  Divine  sweetness 
and  delights. 

Cease  not  in  thy  pursuit  till  thou 
shalt  behold  "  the  God  of  gods  in 

In  thy  spiritual  ascent  and  in 
thy  search  after  a  closer  union 
with  God  thou  must  allow  thyself 
no  repose,  no  slipping  back,  but 
must  go  forward  till  thou  hast 
obtained  the  object  of  thy  desires. 
Follow  the  example  of  mountain- 
climbers.  If  thy  desires  turn  aside 
after  the  objects  which  pass  below 
thou  wilt  lose  thyself  in  byways 
and  countless  distractions.  Thy 
mind  will  become  dissipated  and 
drawn  in  all  directions  by  its 
desires.  Thy  progress  will  be 
uncertain,  thou  wilt  not  reach 
thy  goal,  nor  find  rest  after  thy 

1  Ps.  Ixxxiii.  8. 

49  D 

On  Union  with  God 

If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  heart 
and  mind,  led  on  by  love  and 
desire,  withdraw  from  the  distrac 
tions  of  this  world,  and  little  by 
little  abandon  baser  things  to 
become  recollected  in  the  one 
true  and  unchangeable  Good,  to 
dwell  there,  held  fast  by  the 
bonds  of  love,  then  wilt  thou 
grow  strong,  and  thy  recollection 
will  deepen  the  higher  thou  risest 
on  the  wings  of  knowledge  and 

They  who  have  attained  to  this 
dwell  as  by  habit  in  the  Sovereign 
Good,  and  become  at  last  insepar 
able  from  it. 

True  life,  which  is  God  Himself, 
becomes  their  inalienable  posses 
sion  j1  for  ever,  free  from  all  fear 
of  the  vicissitudes  of  time  and 

1  We  only  lose  God,  the  uncreated  Good, 
by  an  unlawful  attachment  to  created  good  ; 
if  we  are  free  from  this  attachment,  we  tend 
to  Him  without  effort. 


Interior  Recollection 

change,1  they  repose  in  the  peace 
ful  enjoyment  of  this  inward 
happiness,  and  in  sweet  communi 
cation  with  God.  Their  abode  is 
for  ever  fixed  within  their  own 
souls,  in  Christ  Jesus,  Who  is  to 
all  who  come  to  Him  "  the  Way, 
the  Truth,  and  the  Life."2 

1  The  subsequent  condemnation,  in  1687, 
of  this  doctrine,  as  taught  by  Molino,  could 
not,  of  course,  be  foreseen  by  Blessed  Al- 
bertus  writing  in  the  thirteenth  century. 

2  John  xiv.  6. 






FROM  all  that  has  hitherto 
been  said,  thou  hast  under 
stood,  if  I  mistake  not,  that  the 
more  thou  separatest  thyself  from 
earthly  images  and  created  objects, 
and  the  closer  thy  union  with  God, 
the  nearer  wilt  thou  approach  to 
the  state  of  innocence  and  perfec 
tion.  What  could  be  happier, 
better,  sweeter  than  this  ? 

It  is,  therefore,  of  supreme  im 
portance  that  thou  shouldst  pre 
serve  thy  soul  so  free  from  every 
trace   or    entanglement   of    earth 

A  Truly  Devout  Man 

that  neither  the  world  nor  thy 
friends,  neither  prosperity  nor 
adversity,  things  present,  past,  or 
future,  which  concern  thyself  or 
others,  not  even  thine  own  sins 
above  measure,  should  have  power 
to  trouble  thee. 

Think  only  how  thou  mayest 
live,  as  it  were,  alone  with  God, 
removed  from  the  world,  the 
simple  and  pure  life  of  the  spirit, 
as  though  thy  soul  were  already 
in  eternity  and  separated  from  thy 

There  thou  wouldst  not  busy 
thyself  with  earthly  things,  nor 
be  disquieted  by  the  state  of  the 
world,  by  peace  or  war,  fair  skies 
or  foul,  or  anything  here  below. 
But  thou  wouldst  be  absorbed  and 
rilled  by  His  love. 

Strive  even  now  in  this  present 
life  to  come  forth  in  a  manner  from 
thy  body  and  from  every  creature. 

On  Union  with  God 

As  far  as  thou  canst,  fix  the  eye 
of  thy  soul  steadfastly,  with  un- 
obscured  gaze,  upon  the  uncreated 

Then  will  thy  soul,  purified  from 
the  clouds  of  earth,  be  like  an 
Angel  in  a  human  body,  no  longer 
troubled  by  the  flesh,  or  disturbed 
by  vain  thoughts. 

Arm  thyself  against  temptations, 
persecutions,  injuries,  so  that  in 
adversity  as  in  prosperity,  thou 
mayest  still  cleave  to  God  in  un 
broken  peace. 

When  trouble,  discouragement, 
confusion  of  mind  assail  thee,  do 
not  lose  patience  or  be  cast  down. 
Do  not  betake  thee  to  vocal 
prayers  or  other  consolations,  but 
endeavour  by  an  act  of  the  will 
and  reason  to  lift  up  thy  soul  and 
unite  it  to  God,  whether  thy 
sensual  nature  will  or  no. 

The  devout   soul  should  be  so 


A  Truly  Devout  Man 

united  to  God,  should  so  form  and 
preserve  her  will  in  conformity  to 
the  Divine  will,  that  she  is  no 
more  occupied  or  allured  by  any 
creature  than  before  it  was  created, 
but  lives  as  though  there  existed 
but  God  and  herself.1 

She  will  receive  in  unvarying 
peace  all  that  comes  to  her  from 
the  hand  of  Divine  Providence. 
In  all  things  she  will  hope  in  the 
Lord,  without  losing  patience, 
peace,  or  silence. 

Behold,  therefore,  of  how  great 
value  it  is  in  the  spiritual  life  to 
be  detached  from  all  things,  that 
thou  mayest  be  interiorly  united 
to  God  and  conformed  to  Him. 

Moreover,  there  will  then  be 
no  longer  anything  to  intervene 
between  thy  soul  and  God. 
Whence  could  it  come?  Not 

1  And  this  she  does  because  creatures  no 
longer  occupy  her,  except  for  God's  sake. 


On  Union  with  God 

from  without,  for  the  vow  of 
voluntary  poverty  has  despoiled 
thee  of  all  earthly  goods,  that  of 
chastity  has  taken  thy  body.  Nor 
could  it  come  from  within,  for 
obedience  has  taken  from  thee  thy 
very  will  and  soul.  There  is  now 
nothing  left  which  could  come 
between  God  and  thyself. 

That  thou  art  a  religious,  thy 
profession,  thy  state,  thy  habit 
and  tonsure,  and  the  other  marks 
of  the  religious  life  declare.  See 
to  it  whether  thou  art  a  religious 
in  truth  or  only  one  in  name. 

Consider  how  thou  art  fallen 
and  how  thou  sinnest  against  the 
Lord  thy  God  and  against  His 
justice  if  thy  deeds  do  not  corre 
spond  with  thy  holy  state,  if  by 
will  or  desire  thou  clingest  to  the 
creature  rather  than  to  the  Creator, 
or  preferrest  the  creature  to  the 







TT WHATEVER  exists  outside 

V  V  of  God  is  the  work  of  His 
hands.  Every  creature  is,  there 
fore,  a  blending  together  of  the 
actual  and  the  possible,  and  as 
such  is  in  its  nature  limited.  Born 
of  nothing,  it  is  surrounded  by 
nothingness,  and  tends  to  nothing 

Of  necessity  the  creature  depends 
each  moment  upon  God,  the 
supreme  Artist,  for  its  existence, 

1  This  is  so  because,  according  to  true 
philosophy,  the  essence  of  a  thing  is  dis 
tinct  from  its  existence. 


On  Union  with  God 

preservation,  power  of  action,  and 
all  that  it  possesses. 

It  is  utterly  unable  to  accom 
plish  its  own  work,  either  for  itself 
or  for  another,  and  is  impotent  as 
a  thing  which  is  not  before  that 
which  is,  the  finite  before  the 
infinite.  It  follows,  therefore,  that 
our  life,  thoughts,  and  works 
should  be  in  Him,  of  Him,  for 
Him,  and  directed  to  Him,  Who  by 
the  least  sign  of  His  will  could 
produce  creatures  unspeakably 
more  perfect  than  any  which  now 

It  is  impossible  that  there  should 
be  in  the  mind  or  heart  a  thought 
or  a  love  more  profitable,  more 
perfect  or  more  blessed  than  those 
which  rest  upon  God,  the  Almighty 
Creator,  of  Whom,  in  Whom,  by 
Whom,  towards  Whom  all  tend. 

He  suffices  infinitely  for  Him 
self  and  for  others,  since  from  all 

The  Contemplation  of  God 

eternity  He  contains  within  Him 
self  the  perfections  of  all  things. 
There  is  nothing  within  Him  which 
is  not  Himself.  In  Him  and  by 
Him  exist  the  causes  of  all  tran 
sitory  things ;  in  Him  are  the 
immutable  origins  of  all  things 
that  change,  whether  rational  or 

All  that  happens  in  time  has  in 
Him  its  eternal  principle. 

He  fills  all ;  He  is  in  all  things 
by  His  essence,  by  which  He  is 
more  present  and  more  near  to 
them  than  they  are  to  them 

In  Him  all  things  are  united  and 
live  eternally.2  It  is  true  that  the 
weakness  of  our  understanding  or 
our  want  of  experience3  may  oblige 

1  Every  actual  cause  is  more  intimately 
present  to  its  accomplished  work  than  the 
work  itself,  which  it  necessarily  precedes. 

2  John  i.  3,  4. 

3  We  cannot   always  experience   Divine 
things,  and  at  first  we  can   only  compare 


On  Union  with  God 

us  to  make  use  of  creatures  in 
our  contemplation,  yet  there  is  a 
kind  of  contemplation  which  is 
very  fruitful,  good,  and  real, 
which  seems  possible  to  all. 
Whether  he  meditates  on  the 
creature  or  the  Creator,  every  man 
may  reach  the  point  at  which  he 
finds  all  his  joy  in  His  Creator, 
God,  One  in  Trinity,  and  kindles 
the  fire  of  Divine  love  in  himself 
or  in  others,  so  as  to  merit  eternal 

We  should  notice  here  the  differ 
ence  which  exists  between  the 
contemplation  of  Christians  and 
that  of  pagan  philosophers.  The 
latter  sought  only  their  own  per 
fection,  and  hence  their  contempla 
tion  affected  their  intellect  only ; 
they  desired  only  to  enrich  their 
minds  with  knowledge.  But  the 

them  to  the  things  which  we  experience  here 


The  Contemplation  of  God 

contemplation  of  Saints,  which  is 
that  of  Christians,  seeks  as  its  end 
the  love  of  the  God  Whom  they 
contemplate.  Hence  it  is  not  con 
tent  to  find  fruit  for  the  intelligence, 
but  penetrates  beyond  to  the  will 
that  it  may  there  enkindle  love. 

The  Saints  desired  above  all  in 
their  contemplation  the  increase  of 

It  is  better  to  know  Jesus  Christ 
and  possess  Him  spiritually  by 
grace,  than,  without  grace,  to  have 
Him  in  the  body,  or  even  in  His 

The  more  pure  a  soul  becomes 
and  the  deeper  her  recollection, 
the  clearer  will  be  her  inward 
vision.  She  now  prepares,  as  it 
were,  a  ladder  upon  which  she 
may  ascend  to  the  contemplation 
of  God.  This  contemplation  will 
set  her  on  fire  with  love  for  all 
that  is  heavenly,  Divine,  eternal, 

On  Union  with  God 

and  will  cause  her  to  despise  as  utter 
nothing  all  that  is  of  time. 

When  we  seek  to  arrive  at  the 
knowledge  of  God  by  the  method 
of  negation,  we  first  remove  from 
our  conception  of  Him  all  that 
pertains  to  the  body,  the  senses, 
the  imagination.  Then  we  reject 
even  that  which  belongs  to  the 
reason,  and  the  idea  of  being  as  it 
is  found  in  creatures.1  This,  ac 
cording  to  St.  Denis,  is  the  best 
means  of  attaining  to  the  know 
ledge  of  God,2  as  far  as  it  is 
possible  in  this  world. 

This  is  the  darkness  in  which 
God  dwells  and  into  which  Moses 

1  We  deny  that  there  is  in  God  anything 
which  is  a  mere  potentiality,  or  an  imper 
fection.     We  deny  in  Him  also  the  process 
of  reasoning  which  is  the  special  work  of 
the  faculty  of  reason,  because  this  implies 
the  absence  of  the  vision  of  truth.     We  deny 
"  being  as  it  is  found  in  creatures,"  because 
in  creatures  it  is  necessarily  limited,  and 
subject  to  accident. 

2  "  Nom.  Div.,"  i. 


The  Contemplation  of  God 

entered  that  he  might  reach  the 
light  inaccessible.1 

But  we  must  begin,  not  with  the 
mind,  but  with  the  body.  We 
must  observe  the  accustomed  order, 
and  pass  from  the  labour  of  action 
to  the  repose  of  contemplation, 
from  the  moral  virtues  to  those  of 
sublime  contemplation.2 

Why,  O  my  soul,  dost  thou 
vainly  wear  thyself  out  in  such 
multiplicity  of  things  ?  Thou 
findest  in  them  but  poverty. 

1  Exod.   xxxiii.   n;   Num.  xii.   8;    Heb. 
iii.  2. 

2  It  would  be  well  to  quote  St.  Thomas, 
the  disciple  of  Albert  the  Great,  upon  this 
important  doctrine  :   "A  thing  may  be  said 
to  belong  to  the  contemplative  life  in  two 
senses,  either  as  an  essential  part  of  it,  or 
as  a  preliminary  disposition.      The  moral 
virtues  do  not  belong  to  the  essence  of  con 
templation,  whose  sole  end  is  the  contem 
plation  of  truth.   .   .  .     But  they  belong  to 
it  as  a  necessary  predisposition  .  .  .  because 
they  calm  the  passions  and  the  tumult  of 
exterior    preoccupations,    and   so   facilitate 
contemplation  "  ("Sum., "2,  2ae,  q.  180,  a.  2). 

Thisdistinction  should  never belost  sightof 
in  reading  the  mystic  books  of  the  scholastics. 

On  Union  with  God 

Seek  and  love  only  that  perfect 
good  which  includes  in  itself  all 
good,  and  it  will  suffice  thee. 
Unhappy  art  thou  if  thou  knowest 
and  possessest  all,  and  art  ignorant 
of  this.  If  thou  knewest  at  the 
same  time  both  this  good  and  all 
other  things,  this  alone  would 
render  thee  the  happier.  There 
fore  St.  John  has  written  :  "  This 
is  eternal  life :  that  they  may 
know  thee,"1  and  the  Prophet :  "  I 
shall  be  satisfied  when  thy  glory 
shall  appear."2 

1  John  xvii.  3.  2  Ps.  xvi.  15. 








SEEK  not  too  eagerly  after 
the  grace  of  devotion,  sensi 
ble  sweetness  and  tears,  but  let 
thy  chief  care  be  to  remain  in 
wardly  united  to  God  by  good 
will  in  the  intellectual  part  of  the 

1  This  admirable  doctrine  condemns  a 
whole  mass  of  insipid,  shallow,  affected  and 
sensual  books  and  ideas,  which  have  in 
modern  times  flooded  the  world  of  piety, 
have  banished  from  souls  more  wholesome 
thoughts,  and  filled  them  with  a  question 
able  and  injurious  sentimentality. 

65  E 

On  Union  with  God 

Of  a  truth  nothing  is  so  pleasing 
to  God  as  a  soul  freed  from  all 
trace  and  image  of  created  things. 
A  true  religious  should  be  at 
liberty  from  every  creature  that  he 
may  be  wholly  free  to  devote  him 
self  to  God  alone  and  cleave  to 
Him.  Deny  thyself,  therefore, 
that  thou  mayest  follow  Christ, 
thy  Lord  and  God,  Who  was  truly 
poor,  obedient,  chaste,  humble, 
and  suffering,  and  Whose  life  and 
death  were  a  scandal  to  many,  as 
the  Gospel  clearly  shows.1 

The  soul,  when  separated  from 
the  body,  troubles  not  as  to  what 
becomes  of  the  shell  it  has 
abandoned  —  it  may  be  burnt, 
hanged,  spoken  evil  of;  and  the 
soul  is  not  afflicted  by  these  out 
rages,2  but  thinks  only  of  eternity 

1  Matt.  xi.  6  ;  xiii.  57,  etc. 

2  This  shows  an  excellent   grasp  of  the 
meaning  of  the  celebrated  maxim  "  Perinde 
ac  cadaver. ' ' 



and  of  the  one  thing  necessary,  of 
which  the  Lord  speaks  in  the 

So  shouldst  thou  regard  thy  body, 
as  though  the  soul  were  already 
freed  from  it.  Set  ever  before 
thine  eyes  the  eternal  life  in  God, 
which  awaits  thee,  and  think  on 
that  only  good  of  which  the  Lord 
said  :  "  One  thing  is  necessary."2 
A  great  grace  will  then  descend 
upon  thy  soul,  which  will  aid  thee 
in  acquiring  purity  of  mind  and 
simplicity  of  heart. 

And,  indeed,  this  treasure  is 
close  at  thy  doors.  Turn  from  the 
images  and  distractions  of  earth, 
and  quickly  shalt  thou  find  it  with 
thee  and  learn  what  it  is  to  be 
united  to  God  without  hindrance 
or  impediment. 

Then  wilt  thou  gain  an  unshaken 
constancy,  which  will  strengthen 

i  Luke  x.  42.  2  Ibid. 


On  Union  with  God 

thee  to  endure  all  that  may  befall 

Thus  was  it  with  the  martyrs, 
the  Fathers,  the  elect,  and  all  the 
blessed.  They  despised  all  and 
thought  only  of  possessing  in  God 
eternal  security  for  their  souls. 

Thus  armed  within  and  united 
to  God  by  a  good  will,  they  de 
spised  all  that  is  of  this  world,  as 
though  their  soul  had  already 
departed  from  the  body. 

Learn  from  them  how  great  is 
the  power  of  a  good  will  united  to 

By  that  union  of  the  soul  with 
God  it  becomes,  as  it  were,  cut  off 
from  the  flesh  by  a  spiritual  separa 
tion,  and  regards  the  outward  man 
from  afar  as  something  alien 
to  it. 

Then,  whatever  may  happen  in 
wardly  or  in  the  body  will  be  as 
little  regarded  as  though  it  had  be- 



fallen  another  person  or  a  creature 
without  reason. 

He  who  is  united  to  God  is  but 
one  mind  with  Him. 

Out  of  regard,  therefore,  for  His 
sovereign  honour,  never  be  so  bold 
as  to  think  or  imagine  in  His 
presence  what  thou  wouldst  blush 
to  hear  or  see  before  men. 

Thou  oughtest,  moreover,  to 
raise  all  thy  thoughts  to  God  alone, 
and  set  Him  before  thine  inward 
gaze,  as  though  He  alone  existed. 
So  wilt  thou  experience  the  sweet 
ness  of  Divine  union  and  even  now 
make  a  true  beginning  of  the  life 
to  come. 






HE  who  with  his  whole  heart 
draws  nigh  unto  God  must 
of  necessity  be  proved  by  tempta 
tion  and  trial. 

When  the  sting  of  temptation  is 
felt,  by  no  means  give  thy  consent, 
but  bear  all  with  patience,  sweet 
ness,  humility,  and  courage. 

If  thouart  tempted  to  blasphemy 
or  any  shameful  sin,  be  well 
assured  thou  canst  do  nothing 
better  than  to  utterly  despise  and 
contemn  such  thoughts.  Blas 
phemy  is  indeed  sinful,  scandalous, 


and  abominable,  yet  be  not  anxious 
about  such  temptations,  but  rather 
despise  them,  and  do  not  let  thy 
conscience  be  troubled  by  them. 
The  enemy  will  most  certainly  be 
put  to  flight  if  thou  wilt  thus  con 
temn  both  him  and  his  sugges 
tions.  He  is  too  proud  to  endure 
scorn  or  contempt.  The  best 
remedy  is,  therefore,  to  trouble  no 
more  about  these  thoughts  than  we 
do  about  the  flies  which,  against 
our  will,  dance  before  our  eyes. 
Let  not  the  servant  of  Christ  thus 
easily  and  needlessly  lose  sight  of 
his  Master's  presence,  nor  let  him 
grow  impatient,  murmur,  or  com 
plain  of  these  flies;  I  mean  these 
light  temptations,  suspicions,  sad 
ness,  depression,  pusillanimity — 
mere  nothings  which  a  good  will 
can  put  to  flight  by  an  elevation  of 
the  soul  to  God. 

By  a  good  will  man  makes  God 

On  Union  with  God 

his  Master,  and  the  holy  Angels 
his  guardians  and  protectors. 

Good  will  drives  away  tempta 
tion  as  the  hand  brushes  away  a 

"  Peace,"  therefore,  "  to  men  of 
good  will."  * 

In  truth  no  better  gift  than  this 
can  be  offered  to  God. 

Good  will  in  the  soul  is  the 
source  of  all  good,  the  mother  of 
all  virtues.  He  who  possesses  it, 
possesses  without  fear  of  loss  all 
he  needs  to  live  a  good  life.2 

1  Luke  ii.  14. 

a  Nothing  could  be  more  conformable  to 
the  teaching  of  the  Gospel  than  this  doctrine. 

At  His  birth  Jesus  bids  the  Angels  sing 
that  peace  belongs  to  men  of  good  will 
(Luke  ii.  14)  ;  later  He  will  declare  that  His 
meat  is  to  do  the  will  of  His  Father  (John 
iv.  34)  ;  that  He  seeks  not  His  own  will,  but 
the  will  of  Him  Who  sent  Him  (John  v.  30) ; 
that  He  came  down  from  heaven  to  accom 
plish  it  (John  vi.  38)  ;  and  when  face  to 
face  with  death  He  will  still  pray  that  the 
Father's  will  be  done,  not  His  (Matt.  xxvi.  39; 
Luke  xxii.  42).  Over  and  over  again,  in  the 


If  thou  desirest  what  is  good  and 
art  not  able  to  accomplish  it,  God 

Gospel,  do  we  find  Him  using  the  same 

He  would  have  His  disciples  act  in  the 
same  manner.  It  is  not  the  man,  He  tells 
us,  who  repeats  the  words  :  "  My  Father, 
my  Father, ' '  who  shall  enter  into  the  King 
dom  of  Heaven,  but  he  who  does  the  will  of 
God  (Matt.  vii.  21  ;  Rom.  ii.  13  ;  Jas.  i.  22) ; 
and  in  the  prayer  which  He  dictates  to  us 
He  bids  us  ask  for  the  accomplishment  of 
this  will  as  the  means  of  glorifying  God,  and 
of  sanctifying  our  souls  (Matt.  vi.  10). 

Finally,  He  tells  us  that  if  we  conform 
ourselves  to  this  sovereign  will,  we  shall  be 
His  brethren  (Matt.  xii.  50  ;  Mark  Hi.  35). 

When  certain  persons,  pious  or  otherwise, 
confusing  sentiment  with  true  love,  ask 
themselves  if  they  love  God,  or  if  they  will 
be  able  to  love  Him  always,  we  have  only 
to  ask  them  the  same  question  in  other 
words :  Are  they  doing  the  will  of  God  ? 
can  they  do  it — i.e.,  can  they  perform  their 
duty  for  God's  sake  ?  Put  thus,  the  ques 
tion  resolves  itself. 

The  reason  for  such  a  doctrine  is  very 
simple  :  to  love  anyone  is  to  wish  him  well ; 
that,  in  the  case  of  God,  is  to  desire  His 
beneficent  will  towards  us.  Our  Lord  and 
Master  recalled  this  principle  when  He  said 
to  His  disciples,  "You  are  My  friends,  if 
you  do  the  things  that  I  command  you  " 
(John  xv.  14). 


On  Union  with  God 

will  reward  thee  for  it  as  though 
thou  hadst  performed  it.1 

He  has  established  as  an  eternal 
and  unchangeable  law  that  merit 
should  lie  in  the  will,  and  that 
upon  the  will  should  depend  our 
future  of  Heaven  or  hell,  reward  or 

Charity  itself  consists  in  nothing 
else  but  a  strong  will  to  serve  God, 
a  loving  desire  to  please  Him,  and 
a  fervent  longing  to  enjoy  Him. 

Forget  not,  therefore,  temptation 
is  not  sin,  but  rather  the  means  of 
proving  virtue.  By  it  man  may 
gain  great  profit,3  and  this  the 

1  We  must,  in  virtue  of  the  same  principle, 
keep  a  firm  hold  of  the  truth,  as  indisputable 
as  it  is  frequently  forgotten,  that  we  have 
the  merit  of  the  good  which  we  will  to  carry 
out  and  are  unable  to  accomplish,  as  we 
have  also  the  demerit  of  the  evil  we  should 
have  done  and  could  not. 

2  "  Upon  the  will  depends  our  future  of 
Heaven  or  hell,"  because,  given  the  know 
ledge  of  God,  the  will  attaches  itself  to  Him 
by  love,  or  hates  Him  with  obstinacy. 

3  We  may  notice,  in  particular,  a  three- 



more   inasmuch    as   "  the    life   of 
man  upon  earth  is  a  warfare." l 

fold  benefit :  first,  temptation  calls  for  con 
flict,  and  so  strengthens  virtue ;  then  it 
obliges  a  man  to  adhere  deliberately  to  that 
virtue  which  is  assailed  by  the  temptation, 
and  so  gain  a  further  perfection  ;  finally, 
there  are  necessarily  included  in  both  the 
conflict  and  the  adherence  to  good  numerous 
virtuous,  and  therefore  meritorious,  acts. 
Thus  we'  may  reap  advantage  from  tempta 
tion  both  in  our  dispositions  and  our  acts. 
1  Job  vii.  i . 




ALL  that  we  have  hitherto 
described,  all  that  is  necessary 
for  salvation,  can  find  in  love  alone 
its  highest,  completest,  most  bene 
ficent  perfection. 

Love  supplies  all  that  is  wanting 
for  our  salvation  ;  it  contains 
abundantly  every  good  thing,  and 
lacks  not  even  the  presence  of  the 
supreme  object  of  our  desires. 

It  is  by  love  alone  that  we  turn 
to  God,  are  transformed  into  His 
likeness,  and  are  united  to  Him, 
so  that  we  become  one  spirit  with 
Him,  and  receive  by  and  from 
Him  all  our  happiness :  here  in 

The  Love  of  God 

grace,  hereafter  in  glory.  Love 
can  find  no  rest  till  she  reposes  in 
the  full  and  perfect  possession  of 
the  Beloved. 

It  is  by  the  path  of  love,  which 
is  charity,  that  God  draws  nigh  to 
man,  and  man  to  God,  but  where 
charity  is  not  found  God  cannot 
dwell.  If,  then,  we  possess  chanty 
we  possess  God,  for  "  God  is 

There  is  nothing  keener  than 
love,  nothing  more  subtle,  nothing 
more  penetrating.  Love  cannot 
rest  till  it  has  sounded  all  the 
depths  and  learnt  the  perfections 
of  its  Beloved.  It  desires  to  be 
one  with  Him,  and,  if  it  could, 
would  form  but  one  being  with 
the  Beloved.  It  is  for  this  reason 
that  it  cannot  suffer  anything  to 
intervene  between  it  and  the  object 
loved,  which  is  God,  but  springs 

1  i  John  iv.  8. 

On  Union  with  God 

forward  towards  Him,  and  finds 
no  peace  till  it  has  overcome  every 
obstacle,  and  reached  even  unto 
the  Beloved. 

Love  has  the  power  of  uniting 
and  transforming ;  it  transforms 
the  one  who  loves  into  him  who  is 
loved,  and  him  who  is  loved  into 
him  who  loves.  Each  passes  into 
the  other,  as  far  as  it  is  possible. 

And  first  consider  the  intelli 
gence.  How  completely  love  trans 
ports  the  loved  one  into  him  who 
loves  !  With  what  sweetness  and 
delight  the  one  lives  in  the 
memory  of  the  other,  and  how 
earnestly  the  lover  tries  to  know, 
not  superficially  but  intimately,  all 
that  concerns  the  object  of  his 
love,  and  strives  to  enter  as  far  as 
possible  into  his  inner  life ! 

Think  next  of  the  will,  by  which 
also  the  loved  one  lives  in  him  who 
loves.  Does  he  not  dwell  in  him 

The  Love  of  God 

by  that  tender  affection,  that  sweet 
and  deeply-rooted  joy  which  he 
feels  ?  On  the  other  hand,  the 
lover  lives  in  the  beloved  by  the 
sympathy  of  his  desires,  by  sharing 
his  likes  and  dislikes,  his  joys  and 
sorrows,  until  the  two  seem  to 
form  but  one.  Since  "  love  is 
strong  as  death,"1  it  carries  the 
lover  out  of  himself  into  the  heart 
of  the  beloved,  and  holds  him 
prisoner  there. 

The  soul  is  more  truly  where  it 
loves  than  where  it  gives  life,  since 
it  exists  in  the  object  loved  by  its 
own  nature,  by  reason  and  will ; 
whilst  it  is  in  the  body  it  animates 
only  by  bestowing  on  it  an  existence 
which  it  shares  with  the  animal 

1  Cant.  viii.  6. 

2  The  author  is  speaking  here  of  the  soul 
in  so  far  as  it  is  human,  and  it  is  as  such 
that  it  is  more  where  it  loves  than  where  it 
gives  life. 


On  Union  with  God 

There  is,  therefore,  but  one 
thing  which  has  power  to  draw 
us  from  outward  objects  into  the 
depths  of  our  own  souls,  there  to 
form  an  intimate  friendship  with 
Jesus.  Nothing  but  the  love  of 
Christ  and  the  desire  of  His  sweet 
ness  can  lead  us  thus  to  feel,  to 
comprehend  and  experience  the 
presence  of  His  Divinity. 

The  power  of  love  alone  is  able 
to  lift  up  the  soul  from  earth  to  the 
heights  of  Heaven,  nor  is  it  possible 
to  ascend  to  eternal  beatitude 
except  on  the  wings  of  love  and 

Love  is  the  life  of  the  soul,  its 
nuptial  garment,  its  perfection.1 

1  Without  charity  there  is  no  perfect 
virtue,  since  without  it  no  virtue  can  lead 
man  to  his  final  end,  which  is  God,  although 
it  may  lead  him  to  some  lower  end.  It  is 
in  this  sense  that,  according  to  the  older 
theologians,  charity  is  the  ' '  form  ' '  of  the 
other  virtues,  since  by  it  the  acts  of  all 
the  other  virtues  are  supernaturalized  and. 

The  Love  of  God 

Upon  charity  are  based  the  law, 
the  prophets,  and  the  precepts  of 
the  Lord.1  Hence  the  Apostle 
wrote  to  the  Romans :  "  Love  is 
therefore  the  fulfilling  of  the  law,"  2 
and  in  the  first  Epistle  to  Timothy : 
;<  The  end  of  the  commandment  is 

directed   to   their   true  end— i.e.,    to   God. 
Cf.  St.  Th.  "  Sum.,"  2,  2ae,  q.  23,  aa.  7,  8. 

1  Matt.  xxii.  40.  2  Rom.  xiii.  10.' 

3  i  Tim.  i.  5. 






OF  ourselves  we  are  utterly 
unable  to  attain  to  charity  or 
any  other  good  thing.  We  have 
naught  to  offer  to  the  Lord,  the 
Author  of  all,  which  was  not  His 

One  thing  alone  remains  to  us : 
that  in  every  occurrence  we  should 
turn  to  Him  in  prayer,  as  He 
Himself  taught  us  by  word  and 
example.  Let  us  go  to  Him  as 
guilty,  poor,  and  miserable,  as 
beggars,  weak  and  needy,  as 
subjects  and  slaves,  yet  as  His 


True  Prayer 

Of  ourselves  we  are  utterly 
destitute.  What  can  we  do  but 
cast  ourselves  at  His  feet  in  deepest 
humility,  holy  fear  mingling  in  our 
souls  with  love,  peace,  and  recollec 
tion  ? 

And  while  we  are  fain  to  draw 
nigh  with  all  lowliness  and  modesty, 
with  minds  sincere  and  simple,  let 
our  hearts  burn  with  great  desires, 
with  ardour  and  heartfelt  longings. 
And  so  let  us  supplicate  our  God, 
and  lay  before  Him  with  entire 
confidence  the  perils  which  menace 
us  on  every  side.  Let  us  freely, 
unhesitatingly,  and  in  all  simplicity, 
confide  ourselves  to  Him,  and  offer 
Him  our  whole  being,  even  to  the 
last  fibre,  for  are  we  not  in  truth 
absolutely  His  ? 

Let  us  keep  nothing  for  our 
selves,  and  then  will  be  fulfilled  in 
us  the  saying  of  Blessed  Isaac,  one 
of  the  Fathers  of  the  Desert,  who, 

On  Union  with  God 

speaking  of  this  kind  of  prayer, 
said  :  "  We  shall  be  one  being  with 
God,  and  He  will  be  all  in  all  to 
us,  when  that  perfect  charity  by 
which  He  loved  us  first  has  entered 
into  our  inmost  hearts."1 

This  will  be  accomplished  when 
God  alone  becomes  the  object  of 
all  our  love,  our  desires,  our  striv 
ing,  of  all  our  efforts  and  thoughts, 
of  all  that  we  l^hold,  speak  of, 
hope  for ;  when  that  union  which 
exists  between  the  Father  and  the 
Son,  and  between  the  Son  and  the 
Father  shall  be  found  also  in  our 
mind  and  soul. 

Since  His  love  for  us  is  so  pure, 
sincere,  and  unchanging,  ought 
not  we  in  return  to  give  Him  a 
love  constant  and  uninterrupted  ? 

So  intimate  should  be  our  union 

1  God  can  only  love  Himself  or  creatures 
for   His  own  sake  ;  if  we   have   this   love 
within  our  souls  we  shall  be  in  a  certain 
sense  one  being  with  Him. 

True  Prayer 

with  Him  that  our  hopes,  thoughts, 
prayers  breathe  only  God.1  The 
truly  spiritual  man  should  set 
before  him,  as  the  goal  of  all  his 
efforts  and  desires,  the  possession 
even  in  a  mortal  body,  of  an  image 
of  the  happiness  to  come,  and  the 
enjoyment  even  here  below  of 
some  foretaste  of  the  delights,  the 
life,  and  glory  of  Heaven. 

This,  I  say,  is  the  end  of  all  per 
fection — that  the  soul  may  become 
so  purified  from  every  earthly 
longing,  and  so  raised  to  spiritual 
things,  that  at  last  the  whole  life 
and  the  desires  of  the  heart  form 
one  unbroken  prayer. 

When  the  soul  has  thus  shaken 
off  the  dust  of  earth  and  aspires 
unto  her  God,  to  Whom  the  true 
religious  ever  directs  his  intention, 

1  This  teaching  is  based  on  the  definition 
that  prayer  is  essentially  ' '  an  elevation  of 
the  soul  to  God." 


On  Union  with  God 

dreading  the  least  separation  from 
Him  as  a  most  cruel  death  ;  when 
peace  reigns  within  and  she  is 
delivered  from  the  bondage  of  her 
passions  and  cleaves  with  firmest 
purpose  to  the  one  Sovereign  Good, 
then  will  be  fulfilled  in  her  the 
words  of  the  Apostle :  "  Pray  with 
out  ceasing,"1  and  "  in  everyplace, 
lifting  up  pure  hands,  without 
anger  and  contention."2 

When  once  this  purity  of  soul 
has  gained  the  victory  over  man's 
natural  inclination  for  the  things 
of  sense,  when  all  earthly  longings 
are  quenched  and  the  soul  is,  as  it 
were,  transformed  into  the  likeness 
of  pure  spirits  or  Angels,  then  all 
she  receives,  all  she  undertakes,  all 
she  does,  will  be  a  pure  and  true 

Only  persevere  faithfully  in  thy 
efforts  and,  as  I  have  shown  from 

1  i  Thess.  v.  17.          2  i  Tim.  ii.  8. 

True  Prayer 

the  beginning,  it  will  become  as 
simple  and  easy  for  thee  to  con 
template  God  and  rejoice  in  Him 
in  thy  recollection  as  to  live  a 
purely  natural  life. 







THERE  is  also  another  prac 
tice  which  will  tend  greatly 
to  thy  progress  in  spiritual  perfec 
tion,  and  will  aid  thee  to  gain 
purity  of  soul  and  tranquil  rest 
in  God.  Whatever  men  say  or 
think  of  thee,  bring  it  before  the 
tribunal  of  thine  own  conscience. 
Enter  within  thyself,  and  there, 
turning  a  deaf  ear  to  all  else,  set 
thyself  to  learn  the  truth.  Then 
wilt  thou  see  clearly  that  the 
praise  and  honour  of  men  bring 
thee  no  profit,  but  rather  loss,  if 


Testimony  of  Conscience 

thou  knowest  that  thou  art  guilty 
and  worthy  of  condemnation  in 
the  sight  of  truth.  And,  just  as  it 
is  useless  to  be  honoured  outwardly 
by  men  if  thy  conscience  accuse 
thee  within,  so  in  like  manner  is 
it  no  loss  to  thee  if  men  despise, 
blame,  or  persecute  thee  without, 
if  within  thou  art  innocent  and 
free  from  reproach  or  blame.  Nay, 
rather,  thou  hast  then  great  reason 
to  rejoice  in  the  Lord  in  patience, 
silence,  and  peace. 

Adversity  is  powerless  to  harm 
where  sin  has  no  dominion;  and 
just  as  there  is  no  evil  which  goes 
unpunished,  so  is  there  no  good 
without  recompense. 

Seek  not  with  the  hypocrites 
thy  reward  and  crown  from  men, 
but  rather  from  the  hand  of  God, 
not  now,  but  hereafter ;  not  for  a 
passing  moment,  but  for  eternity. 

Thou  canst,  therefore,  do 

On  Union  with  God 

nothing  higher  nor  better  in  every 
tribulation  or  occurrence  than 
enter  into  the  sanctuary  of  thy 
soul,  and  there  call  upon  the  Lord 
Jesus  Christ,  thy  helper  in  tempta 
tion  and  affliction.  There  shouldst 
thou  humble  thyself,  confessing 
thy  sins,  and  praising  thy  God  and 
Father,  Who  both  chastises  and 

There  dispose  thyself  to  accept 
with  unruffled  peace,  readiness, 
and  confidence  from  the  hands  of 
God's  unfailing  Providence  and 
marvellous  wisdom  all  that  is 
sent  thee  of  prosperity  or  adversity, 
whether  touching  thyself  or  others. 
Then  wilt  thou  obtain  remission 
of  thy  sins  j1  bitterness  will  be 
driven  from  thy  soul,  sweetness 
and  confidence  will  penetrate  it, 

1  Remission  may  be  obtained  in  this  way 
of  the  fault  in  the  case  of  venial  sins,  of  the 
punishment  due  in  all  sins. 

Testimony  of  Conscience 

grace  and  mercy  will  descend  upon 
it.  Then  a  sweet  familiarity  will 
draw  thee  on  and  strengthen  thee, 
abundant  consolation  will  flow  to 
thee  from  the  bosom  of  God. 
Then  thou  wilt  adhere  to  Him  and 
form  an  indissoluble  union  with 

But  beware  of  imitating  hypo 
crites  who,  like  the  Pharisees,  try 
to  appear  outwardly  before  men 
more  holy  than  they  know  them 
selves  in  truth  to  be.  Is  it  not 
utter  folly  to  seek  or  desire  human 
praise  and  glory  for  oneself  or 
others,  while  within  we  are  filled 
with  shameful  and  grievous  sins  ? 
Assuredly  he  who  pursues  such 
vanities  can  hope  for  no  share  in 
the  good  things  of  which  we  spoke 
just  now,  but  shame  will  infallibly 
be  his  lot. 

Keep  thy  worthlessness  and  thy 
sins   ever   before  thine  eyes,  and 

On  Union  with  God 

learn  to  know  thyself   that  thou 
mayest  grow  in  humility. 

Shrink  not  from  being  regarded 
by  all  the  world  as  filthy  mud, 
vile  and  abject,  on  account  of  thy 
grievous  sins  and  defects.  Esteem 
thyself  among  others  as  dross  in 
the  midst  of  gold,  as  tares  in  the 
wheat,  straw  among  the  grain,  as 
a  wolf  among  the  sheep,  as  Satan 
among  the  children  of  God. 

Neither  shouldst  thou  desire  to 
be  respected  by  others,  or  preferred 
to  anyone  whatsoever.  Fly  rather 
with  all  thy  strength  of  heart  and 
soul  from  that  pestilential  poison, 
the  venom  of  praise,  from  a  reputa 
tion  founded  on  boasting  and  os 
tentation,  lest,  as  the  Prophet 
says,  "  The  sinner  is  praised  in  the 
desires  of  his  soul."1 

Again,  in  Isaias,  we  read :  "  They 
that  call  thee  blessed,  the  same 

1  Ps.  ix.  24. 


Testimony  of  Conscience 

deceive  thee,  and  destroy  the  way 
of  thy  steps."1  Also  the  Lord 
says:  "Woe  to  you  when  men 
shall  bless  you  !"  2 

1  Isa.  iii.  12.  2  Luke  vi.  26. 



SELF  :  HOW  IT  IS  ACQUIRED  :      , 

THE  more  truly  a  man  knows 
his  own  misery,  the  more 
fully  and  clearly  does  he  behold 
the  majesty  of  God.  The  more 
vile  he  is  in  his  own  eyes  for  the 
sake  of  God,  of  truth,  and  of 
justice,  the  more  worthy  of  esteem 
is  he  in  the  eyes  of  God. 

Strive  earnestly,  therefore,  to 
look  on  thyself  as  utterly  con 
temptible,  to  think  thyself  un 
worthy  of  any  benefit,  to  be  dis 
pleasing  in  thine  own  eyes,  but 
pleasing  to  God.  Desire  that 


The  Contempt  of  Self 

others  should  regard  thee  as  vile 
and  mean. 

Learn  not  to  be  troubled  in 
tribulations,  afflictions,  injuries ; 
not  to  be  incensed  against  those 
that  inflict  them,  nor  to  entertain 
thoughts  of  resentment  against 
them.  Try,  on  the  contrary,  sin 
cerely  to  believe  thyself  worthy 
of  all  injuries,  contempt,  ill-treat 
ment  and  scorn. 

In  truth,  he  who  for  God's  sake 
is  filled  with  sorrow  and  compunc 
tion  dreads  to  be  honoured  and 
loved  by  another.  He  does  not 
refuse  to  be  an  object  of  hatred, 
or  shrink  from  being  trodden 
under  foot  and  despised  as  long 
as  he  lives,  in  order  that  he  may 
practise  real  humility  and  cleave 
in  purity  of  heart  to  God  alone. 

It  does  not  require  exterior 
labour  or  bodily  health  to  love 
God  only,  to  hate  oneself  more 


On  Union  with  God 

than  all,  to  desire  to  seem  little  in 
the  eyes  of  others  :  what  is  needed 
is  rather  repose  of  the  senses,  the 
effort  of  the  heart,  silence  of  the 

It  is  by  labouring  with  the  heart, 
by  the  inward  aspiration  of  the 
soul,  that  thou  wilt  learn  to  forsake 
the  base  things  of  earth  and  to 
rise  to  what  is  heavenly  and  Divine. 

Thus  wilt  thou  become  trans 
formed  in  God,  and  this  the  more 
speedily  if,  in  all  sincerity,  without 
condemning  or  despising  thy  neigh 
bour,  thou  desirest  to  be  regarded 
by  all  as  a  reproach  and  scandal — 
nay,  even  to  be  abhorred  as  filthy 
mire,  rather  than  possess  the 
delights  of  earth,  or  be  honoured 
and  exalted  by  men,  or  enjoy  any 
advantage  or  happiness  in  this 
fleeting  world. 

Have  no  other  desire  in  this 
perishable  life  of  the  body,  no 

The  Contempt  of  Self 

other  consolation  than  unceasingly 
to  weep  over,  regret  and  detest 
thy  offences  and  faults. 

Learn  utterly  to  despise  thyself, 
to  annihilate  thyself  and  to  appear 
daily  more  contemptible  in  the 
eyes  of  others. 

Strive  to  become  even  more 
unworthy  in  thine  own  eyes,  in 
order  to  please  God  alone,  to  love 
Him  only  and  cling  to  Him. 

Concern  not  thyself  with  any 
thing  except  thy  Lord  Jesus  Christ, 
Who  ought  to  reign  alone  in  thy 
affections.  Have  no  solicitude  or 
care  save  for  Him  Whose  power 
and  Providence  give  movement 
and  being  to  all  things.1 

1  St.  Thomas  explains  as  follows  both  the 
possibility  and  the  correctness  of  this  opinion 
of  ourselves:  "A  man  can,  without  false 
hood,  believe  and  declare  himself  viler  than 
all  others,  both  on  account  of  the  secret 
faults  which  he  knows  to  exist  within  him, 
and  on  account  of  the  gifts  of  God  hidden 
in  the  souls  of  others. " 

97  G 

On  Union  with  God 

It  is  not  now  the  time  to  rejoice 
but  rather  to  lament  with  all  the 
sincerity  of  thy  heart. 

If  thou  canst  not  weep,  sorrow 
at  least  that  thou  hast  no  tears 
to  shed ;  if  thou  canst,  grieve  the 
more  because  by  the  gravity  of  thy 
offences  and  number  of  thy  sins 
thou  art  thyself  the  cause  of  thy 
grief.  A  man  under  sentence  of 
death  does  not  trouble  himself  as 
to  the  dispositions  of  his  execu 
tioners  ;  so  he  who  truly  mourns 
and  sheds  the  tears  of  repentance, 
refrains  from  delight,  anger,  vain- 

St.  Augustine,  in  his  work  "  De  Virginit.," 
ch.  Hi.,  says:  "Believe  that  others  are 
better  than  you  in  the  depths  of  their  souls, 
although  outwardly  you  may  appear  better 
than  they." 

In  the  same  way  one  may  truthfully  both 
say  and  believe  that  one  is  altogether  use 
less  and  unworthy  in  his  own  strength. 
The  Apostle  says  (2  Cor.  iii.  5)  :  "  Not  that 
we  are  sufficient  to  think  anything  of  our- 
selves,  as  of  ourselves,  but  our  sufficiency  is 
from  God"  ("Sum.,"  2,  2ae,  q.  161,  a.  6,  im). 

The  Contempt  of  Self 

glory,   indignation,  and  every  like 

Citizens  and  criminals  are  not 
lodged  in  like  abodes ;  so  also  the 
life  and  conduct  of  those  whose 
faults  call  for  sighs  and  tears 
should  not  resemble  those  of  men 
who  have  remained  innocent  and 
have  nothing  to  expiate. 

Were  it  otherwise,  how  would 
the  guilty,  great  though  their 
crimes  may  have  been,  differ  in 
their  punishment  and  expiation 
from  the  innocent  ?  Iniquity 
would  then  be  more  free  than 
innocence.  Renounce  all,  there 
fore,  contemn  all,  separate  thyself 
from  all,  that  thou  mayest  lay  deep 
the  foundations  of  sincere  penance. 

He  who  truly  loves  Jesus  Christ, 
and  sorrows  for  Him,  who  bears 
Him  in  his  heart  and  in  his  body, 
will  have  no  thought,  or  care,  or 


On  Union  with  God 

solicitude  for  aught  else.  Such  a 
one  will  sincerely  mourn  over  his 
sins  and  offences,  will  long  after 
eternal  happiness,  will  remember 
the  Judgment  and  will  think 
diligently  on  his  last  end  in  lowly 
fear.  He,  then,  who  wishes  to 
arrive  speedily  at  a  blessed  im 
passibility  and  to  reach  God,  counts 
that  day  lost  on  which  he  has  not 
been  ill-spoken  of  and  despised. 

What  is  this  impassibility  but 
freedom  from  the  vices  and  passions, 
purity  of  heart,  the  adornment  of 
virtue  ? 

Count  thyself  as  already  dead, 
since  thou  must  needs  die  some 

And  now,  but  one  word  more. 
Let  this  be  the  test  of  thy  thoughts, 
words,  and  deeds.  If  they  render 
thee  more  humble,  more  recollected 
in  God,  more  strong,  then  they  are 

The  Contempt  of  Self 

according  to  God.  But  if  thou 
findest  it  otherwise,  then  fear  lest 
all  is  not  according  to  God,  accept 
able  to  Him,  or  profitable  to  thy 






WOULDST  them  draw  nigh 
unto  God  without  let  or 
hindrance,  freely  and  in  peace,  as 
we  have  described  ?  Desirest  thou 
to  be  united  and  drawn  to  Him  in 
a  union  so  close  that  it  will  endure 
in  prosperity  and  adversity,  in  life 
and  in  death  ?  Delay  not  to 
commit  all  things  with  trustful 
confidence  into  the  hands  of  His 
sure  and  infallible  Providence. 

Is  it  not  most  fitting  that  thou 
shouldst  trust  Him  Who  gives  to 
all  creatures,  in  the  first  place, 
their  existence,  power,  and  move- 

The  Providence  of  God 

ment,  and,  secondly,  their  species 
and  nature,  ordering  in  all  their 
number,  weight,  and  measure  ? 

Just  as  Art  presupposes  the 
operations  of  Nature,  so  Nature 
presupposes  the  work  of  God,  the 
Creator,  Preserver,  Organizer,  and 

To  Him  alone  belong  infinite 
power,  wisdom,  and  goodness, 
essential  mercy,  justice,  truth,  and 
charity,  immutable  eternity,  and 
immensity.  N  othing  can  exist  and 
act  of  its  own  power,  but  every 
creature  acts  of  necessity  by  the 
power  of  God,  the  first  moving 
cause,  the  first  principle  and  origin 
of  every  action,  Who  acts  in  every 
active  being. 

If  we  consider  the  ordered 
harmony  of  the  universe,  it  is  the 
Providence  of  God  which  must 
arrange  all  things,  even  to  the 

smallest  details. 


On  Union  with  God 

From  the  infinitely  great  to  the 
infinitely  small  nothing  can  escape 
His  eternal  Providence ;  nothing 
has  been  drawn  from  His  control, 
either  in  the  acts  of  free-will,  in 
events  we  ascribe  to  chance  or 
fate,  or  in  what  has  been  designed 
by  Him.  We  may  go  further  :  it 
is  as  impossible  for  God  to  make 
anything  which  does  not  fall 
within  the  dominion  of  His  Provi 
dence  as  it  is  for  Him  to  create 
anything  which  is  not  subject  to 
His  action.  Divine  Providence, 
therefore,  extends  over  all  things, 
even  the  thoughts  of  man. 

This  is  the  teaching  of  Holy 
Scripture,  for  in  the  Epistle  of 
St.  Peter  it  is  written :  "  Casting 
all  your  care  upon  Him,  for  He 
hath  care  of  you."1 

And,  again,  the  Prophet  says : 
"  Cast  thy  care  upon  the  Lord  and 

1  i  Pet.  v.  7. 

The  Providence  of  God 

He  shall  sustain  thee."1  Also 
in  Ecclesiasticus  we  read  :  "  My 
children,  behold  the  generations  of 
men  ;  and  know  ye  that  no  one 
hath  hoped  in  the  Lord,  and  hath 
been  confounded.  For  who  hath 
continued  in  His  commandment, 
and  hath  been  forsaken?"2  And 
the  Lord  says  :  "  Be  not  solicitous, 
therefore,  saying,  What  shall  we 
eat  ?"3  All  that  thou  canst  hope 
for  from  God,  however  great  it  may 
be,  thou  shalt  without  doubt 
receive,  according  to  the  promise 
in  Deuteronomy :  "  Every  place 
that  your  foot  shall  tread  upon 
shall  be  yours."4  As  much  as  thou 
canst  desire  thou  shalt  receive, 
and  as  far  as  the  foot  of  thy  con 
fidence  reaches,  so  far  thou  shalt 

Hence  St.  Bernard  says  :  "God, 

1  Ps.  liv.  23.  2  Ecclus.  ii.  11,  12. 

3  Matt.  vi.  31.         4  Deut.  xi.  24. 

On  Union  with  God 

the  Creator  of  all  things,  is  so 
full  of  mercy  and  compassion  that 
whatever  may  be  the  grace  for 
which  we  stretch  out  our  hands, 
we  shall  not  fail  to  receive  it."  1 

It  is  written  in  St.  Mark : 
"  Whatsoever  ye  shall  ask  when 
ye  pray,  believe  that  you  shall 
receive,  and  they  shall  come  unto 

The  greater  and  more  persistent 
thy  confidence  in  God,  and  the 
more  earnestly  thou  turnest  to 
Him  in  lowly  reverence,  the  more 
abundantly  and  certainly  shalt  thou 
receive  all  thou  dost  hope  and 

But  if,  on  account  of  the  number 
and  magnitude  of  his  sins,  the 
confidence  of  any  should  languish, 
let  him  who  feels  this  torpor  re 
member  that  all  is  possible  to  God, 
that  what  He  wills  must  infallibly 

1  Cf.  Serm.  I.  in  Pent.      2  Mark  xi.  24. 
1 06 

The  Providence  of  God 

happen,  and  what  He  wills  not 
cannot  come  to  pass,  and,  finally, 
that  it  is  as  easy  for  Him  to  forgive 
and  blot  out  innumerable  and 
heinous  sins  as  to  forgive  one. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  just  as 
impossible  for  a  sinner  to  deliver 
himself  from  a  single  sin  as  it 
would  be  for  him  to  raise  and 
cleanse  himself  from  many  sins ; 
for,  not  only  are  we  unable  to 
accomplish  this,  but  of  ourselves 
we  cannot  even  think  what  is  right.1 
All  comes  to  us  from  God.  It  is, 
however,  far  more  dangerous,  other 
things  being  equal,  to  be  entangled 
in  many  sins  than  to  be  held  only 
by  one. 

In  truth,  no  evil  remains  un 
punished,  and  for  every  mortal  sin 
is  due,  in  strict  justice,  an  infinite 
punishment,  because  a  mortal  sin  is 
committed  against  God,  to  Whom 

1  2  Cor.  iii.  5. 

On  Union  with  God 

belong  infinite  greatness,  dignity, 
and  glory. 

Moreover,  according  to  the 
Apostle,  "the  Lord  knoweth  who 
are  His,"1  and  it  is  impossible 
that  one  of  them  should  perish,  no 
matter  how  violently  the  tempests 
and  waves  of  error  rage,  how  great 
the  scandal,  schisms  and  persecu 
tions,  how  grievous  the  adversities, 
discords,  heresies,  tribulations,  or 
temptations  of  every  kind. 

The  number  of  the  elect  and  the 
measure  of  their  merit  is  eternally 
and  unalterably  predestined.  So 
true  is  this  that  all  the  good  and 
evil  which  can  happen  to  them 
or  to  others,  all  prosperity  and 
adversity,  serve  only  to  their  ad 

Nay  more,  adversity  does  but 
render  them  more  glorious,  and 
proves  their  fidelity  more  surely. 

1  2  Tim.  ii.  19. 

The  Providence  of  God 

Delay  not,  therefore,  to  commit 
all  things  without  fear  to  the 
Providence  of  God,  by  Whose 
permission  all  evil  of  whatever 
kind  happens,  and  ever  for  some 
good  end.  It  could  not  be  except 
He  permitted  it ;  its  form  and 
measure  are  allowed  by  Him  Who 
can  and  will  by  His  wisdom  turn 
all  to  good. 

Just  as  it  is  by  His  action  that 
all  good  is  wrought,  so  is  it  by 
His  permission  that  all  evil 

1  The  teaching  of  Albert  the  Great  on 
Divine  Providence  is  truly  admirable.  It  is 
based  upon  the  axiom  that  the  actions  of 
the  creature  do  not  depend  partly  upon 
itself  and  partly  upon  God,  but  wholly  upon 
itself  and  wholly  upon  God  (cf.  St.  Thomas 
"  Cont.  Gent.,"  iii.  70). 

Human  causality  is  not  parallel  with  the 
Divine,  but  subordinate  to  it,  as  the  schol 
astics  teach.  This  doctrine  alone  safeguards 
the  action  of  God  and  of  that  of  the  creature. 
The  doctrine  of  parallelism  derogates  from 
both,  and  leads  to  fatalism  by  attributing  to 
God  things  which  He  has  not  done,  and 

On  Union  with  God 

But  from  the  evil  He  draws 
good,  and  thus  marvellously  shows 
forth  His  power,  wisdom,  and 
clemency  by  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ. 
So  also  He  manifests  His  mercy 
and  His  justice,  the  power  of 
grace,  the  weakness  of  nature,  and 
the  beauty  of  the  universe.  So  He 
shows  by  the  force  of  contrast  the 
glory  of  the  good,  and  the  malice 
and  punishment  of  the  wicked. 

In  like  manner,  in  the  conver 
sion  of  a  sinner  we  behold  contri 
tion,  confession,  and  penance ;  and, 
on  the  other  hand,  the  tenderness 
of  God,  His  mercy  and  charity, 
His  glory  and  His  goodness. 

suppressing  for  man  the  necessary  principle 
of  all  good,  especially  that  of  liberty. 

It  is  the  doctrine  of  subordinated  causes 
also  which  explains  how  things  decreed  by 
God  are  determined  by  the  supreme  autho 
rity,  and  infallibly  come  to  pass,  without 
prejudice  to  the  freedom  of  action  of  second 
ary  causes.  All  this  belongs  to  the  highest 
theology.  Unhappily,  certain  modern  au 
thors  have  forgotten  it. 

The  Providence  of  God 

Yet  sin  does  not  always  turn  to 
the  good  of  those  who  commit  it ; 
but  it  is  usually  the  greatest  of 
perils  and  worst  of  ills,  for  it 
causes  the  loss  of  grace  and  glory. 
It  stains  the  soul  and  provokes 
chastisement  and  even  eternal 
punishment.  From  so  great  an 
evil  may  our  Lord  Jesus  vouchsafe 
to  preserve  us  !  Amen. 


ftbe  anaelus  Series 

Authorized  Translations  of  Standard 

Foreign  Works,  Original  Works, 

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